Finding hidden battle’s history

Battle Cry: Stewart Hackney says the Battle of Ferrybridge needs to be remembered.
Battle Cry: Stewart Hackney says the Battle of Ferrybridge needs to be remembered.

A bloody battle that was fought 557 years ago needs to be marked and remembered, according to an amateur genealogist who stumbled across the details while researching his own family ancestry.

While the famous Battle of Towton is remembered as being a pivotal moment in the War of the Roses in 1461, the precursor for that fight took place at Ferrybridge the day before.

Mr Hackney says the Battle of Ferrybridge needs to be remembered.

Mr Hackney says the Battle of Ferrybridge needs to be remembered.

More than 3,000 men are thought to have been killed or wounded in a matter of hours on March 27 as the Yorkists clashed with the Lancastrians close to the River Aire.

But Stewart Hackney, from Knottingley, says the battle is hardly ever mentioned, and despite having lived in the area his whole life, was surprised to uncover details of the little-known battle about a year ago.

Since then he has been searching for scraps of information, most of which have been difficult to find.

The 65-year-old business development manager said: “I had absolutely no idea about it, I was gobsmacked.

“I went to Ferrybridge Juniors and while we were taught history, this never came into it.

“Neither is there anything at the site to commemorate it.

“Everybody knows about the Battle of Towton, but this has almost been written off as a skirmish.”

The Battle of Towton is described as Britain’s bloodiest and involved around 50,000 protagonists.

The sheer scale of the fighting possibly overshadows the event in Ferrybridge just hours before.

The battle started when the Yorkists, heading north, found themselves divided from their enemies by the River Aire.

The Yorkists eventually made their way across the water despite heavy casualties.

“There were 3,000 men killed or wounded - it started at lunchtime and was over by the evening,” added Mr Hackney.

“I find it amazing that nobody knows anything about it, it needs highlighting.”

Mr Hackney says he has spoken with Wakefield Council and historical societies, but says even they struggled to provide information.

He now thinks it should be both taught in local schools and the anniversary marked.